I'm not a runner.
I recently ran my first 10K, and thoroughly enjoyed it, but I don't fit the mold of what most people consider to be a "runner".
I don't know how to pick out the proper running shoes. I buy my workout attire based primarily on aesthetics. I don't own any gadgets outside of my iPhone to track the little training that I do before a race. I'm not affiliated with any running groups. Heck, I can barely find just one friend to run a mile with me once a week.
After the race, I met up with an old friend for brunch. He'd run the race as well, and he and I had been randomly crossing paths over the past year or so, and finally found ourselves in a position to catch up for more than twenty awkward minutes at an event surrounded by other people. The atmosphere was relaxed, the shrimp and grits served as a beautiful distraction from my throbbing knees, and the conversation was a relief to the weight of so much that had been going on in my life.
In the midst of us trying to fill each other in on the last eight years of our lives, he told me of an encounter he had while running another race earlier this year.
While running his first half-marathon, he started approaching a man on the side of the road who was encouraging many of the runners. He said he could hear the man saying, "Good job!" and "Looking good!" or "You've got this!" as those ahead of him passed by. However, as he got closer the man looked at him and said, "Looks like you're holding back."
He said the remark took him by surprise at first, but as he thought about it for a second he quickly asked of himself, "Why am I holding back?" He realized that his body had been better prepared for the grueling demands of running 13.1 miles than he'd originally thought, and in return he wasn't giving it his all. He was allowing comfort to draw out laziness.
I couldn't help but think of how I have done that in my own life time and time again. There have been moments where I was given the opportunity to do something that really pushed me mentally and physically and creatively, and I spent weeks preparing. Most of the time to motivation for such intense preparation was birthed from fear of failure. I would be so nervous that those uncharted waters would be too deep for me, and I'd find myself calling back to shore for help before I even lost sight of the harbor. So, I would do everything within my power to make sure the obstacles ahead wouldn't catch me off guard.
But what happens when the only thing that surprises us while pressing towards our goal is the simplicity of the journey?
We begin to slack.
We sometimes stop giving it our all because we begin to rest in the confidence that even if we aren't doing our best, we're still doing better than most. Why do we so quickly become content with stepping out of our greatness, and settling for "good enough"?
Yes, my friend was still doing better than most people who were running that day, but the pleasant ease of the course he found himself on caused him to not tap into the strength God had given him to cross the finish line with excellence.
To the beautiful heart reading these words: When God has prepared you to be excellent, don't settle for being "good enough".
"Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it on my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philipians 3:13-14, ESV
When we stop giving it our all because the journey appears to be easier than expected, we give the enemy a chance to capitalize on our laziness. Though we make look as though we are still ahead of the pack, he knows the benefit of us reaching the goal on God's timeline instead of our own, and will do whatever he can to thwart the mission.
Run your race with endurance.
Use every tool God has equipped you with to succeed.
Don't hold back.